The past two weeks, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend on the beautiful south pacific island of Fiji. You see, it was a gathering of people to attend the wedding of my daughter to her fiancé, who is from New Zealand. We were blessed to spend this time with the bride and groom to be, his family, her family and many of their friends. There were people whom travelled from Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. I believe there were 48 people in all that traipsed around the world to attend the wedding.
I typically do not much care for cliche’s, but this one fits to a T. I was blessed to be “present” in many more ways than just showing up for the wedding. Through the blessings of sobriety, I was truly present for this wonderful occasion. I was able to be there for my daughter, as her father, for this very special occasion without her having to worry about me and how much I might drink. Not all that long ago, when that same young woman was just 16 years old, I was going through a particularly bad part of my life and that beautiful little girl took on the responsibility of looking after me at times. I am happy to say that things have changed drastically since that time, thanks to the gifts of sobriety.
I had the pleasure of spending time getting to know my new son-in-law’s beautiful family. We got to spend many hours talking and getting to know one another, as well as discussing the special people we were all there to celebrate. We go to start making plans to visit in the future.
I also had the pleasure of re-acquainting myself with my some of my daughters friends from Canada. I know many more were not able to make the trip, but I really enjoyed spending time with the ones that could. Some of them I have known since they were young and it is so great to see what beautiful people they have become. I also had a chance to really get to know the wedding couples’ New Zealand friends. I had had a chance to meet one young couple previously, but it was a great pleasure to get to know them much better, as well as many more of their friends. What a great group of young people the wedding couple have in their lives!
Finally, I want to talk about the wedding day. I started off just after sunrise with a long walk on the beach alone. My AA training has taught me that I need to prepare for each and every day, but this day seemed particularly important. The “on awakening” reading on page 86 of the Big Book took on extra special meaning. The step 3 reading and prayer really was a great spiritual reminder of what this day was going to be all about, who it was about, and who it wasn’t about. It really helped me become focused on remembering that I was there to do whatever needed to be done and to be of service to others, especially the young couple. During that walk on the beach, I was able to clear my head and think about what I needed to do that day. The key points were going to be walking the beautiful bride down the aisle and giving a speech at the reception. My daughter had also asked if her mom wanted to walk down the aisle with us. There was a day when I think that may have hurt my feelings because I would have thought that was “the fathers job” at the wedding. However, I was able to truly embrace the idea. You see, I think that my kids have the best mom in the world, next to mine of course! Her and her husband have always been there for our kids and having her walk down the aisle with us made it all the more special.
My wife, step-daughter and I got to spend the final four days of this amazing trip with the bride and groom all to ourselves. We went to an island resort where we had a tremendous time mostly just relaxing. Other than a bit of an accident parasailing, it was the perfect ending to a perfect trip.
I have been asked two questions repeatedly about this trip. Leading up to the wedding, I was asked a number of times what I thought about my daughter getting married and moving half way around the world. My answer to that is that I am very proud of her and her husband. They are a young couple the squarely has their heads on their shoulders. To watch them, you can really see how much in love they are. You can see how they make each other better and that together they are stronger than alone. Also, having gotten to know their friends and family from New Zealand much better, I know that my little girl has the love and support of a large group of people in New Zealand. As the groom’s father pointed out to me, they are both such great kids and they don’t really need much support or guidance from us, but if they do, we will all be there for them.
The last question I have been asked a lot lately is what was my favourite part of the trip. The answer to that one is simple. My favourite part was walking down the aisle with my daughter and her mom at her wedding. The ceremonial significance of that act became clear to me at that moment. The great honour of being able to do that is something I will never forget. And I’m glad her mom got to be part of it, I think it made it even more unique and special.